WTO Sets Up Panel On China's Raw Material Export Duties

by Scott Hamilton,, Washington

10 November 2016

The World Trade Organization has agreed to the United States’s request for a panel to examine China’s export duties and quotas on 11 raw materials.

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) said these raw materials – including antimony, chromium, cobalt, copper, graphite, indium, lead, magnesia, talc, tantalum, and tin – are “key inputs into a wide range of American products in vital industrial sectors: steel, automotive, aerospace, construction, and electronics.”

USTR said that the export duties provide substantial competitive advantages for Chinese manufacturers by making the raw materials in question more expensive for foreign manufacturers that rely on the materials. Consequently, USTR called for a special DSB meeting at the WTO to have the panel established quickly after China objected to and blocked the first US request for the creation of a panel on October 26.

China’s Ministry of Commerce had insisted that the measures are a key part of the country’s efforts to manage exhaustible natural resources and protect the environment, with the purpose of achieving sustainable development.

After the new WTO decision, USTR Michael Froman said: “China specifically committed to abide by fair, non-discriminatory access to raw materials when it joined the WTO. We intend to hold them to that commitment to ensure that our workers and businesses get all the economic opportunities they’re entitled to under our trade agreements.”

The European Union has requested that the DSB’s panel should consider the case it has also presented against the Chinese export duties on the same raw materials.

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